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Old 17-07-2019, 08:48   #1
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Proof of ownership for UK registered boat

Hi everyone,

so I finally found a boat that ticks all my marks and I want to go ahead with the purchase. The yacht is UK flagged and is registered in the SSR but is currently cruising in the Med. This would be a private sale so for better or worse, I need to do due diligence myself in making sure everything checks out and protect myself against any shennanigans.

So I called the UK Small Ship Register office and they confirmed that the boat is registered under the name of the person selling it to me. That's a good start. Thing is.. as far as I know, the SSR is not a proof of ownership. The seller has said he can produce the bill of sale from when he bought it.. but that's it. The chain of proof of ownership stops there. The question is.. do I care? .. My last boat had all its papers from the original purchase, including VAT receipt etc, each bill of sale from each owner etc.. is it a problem or will it generate problems for me down the road if I don't have the paper trail?

Seller wants a deposit.. I understand that.. but 10% of the value of the boat directly to the pocket of the seller in the absence of an intermediate agent to act as trustee to hold the funds.. well.. that's quite a chunk of trust in a complete stranger one met only once at some marina in the Med if you guys follow.. and in the event of a dispute one is left with the uphill battle to recover that, etc.. any ideas on how one can make sure the transaction stays fair and safe? Ideas welcome.. Thanks!

PS: so for an UK boat.. what should I get from the seller for sure? proof of reregistration, bill of sale and that's it?

Cheers!
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Old 17-07-2019, 09:51   #2
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Re: Proof of ownership for UK registered boat

I wouldn’t be too worried about it. How long has the seller owned the boat? If it’s three weeks, that’s odd. If it’s years, well that’s alright then. Get yourself a bill of sale between the two of you, along with the SSR, and you’re all good (make sure the bill of sale clearly states “VAT not applicable” as well).

As for the deposit, good question. Not knowing what the boat is being sold for, I’d offer £100 as a holding deposit (to take care of the inconvenience if you were to withdraw) then I’d get down there asap and complete the sale. If it’s likely to be a long, drawn out affair, get a broker involved.

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Old 17-07-2019, 11:11   #3
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pirate Re: Proof of ownership for UK registered boat

Agreed.. I would tell him to bog off with the 10% unless he is prepared to pull in a broker or lawyer, maybe his bank manager as intermediary for holding the deposit in escrow.. been bitten by the honour handshake in the past.
Maybe a token holding deposit (max €500) that is no hardship to return should a higher bidder appear.. yet small enough to just skin your nose should he prove an ass.
SSR rules are seller returns the document to dereg so all you will have is a bill of sale and maybe a photo copy of the SSR.. mind, deals are done like this in the UK, I have sold cars and boats in a pub over a pint a few times in the past.
Here is an RYA Bill of Sale form.. just make sure it is signed by all named on the SSR.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf BILL OF SALE.pdf (126.7 KB, 88 views)
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Old 17-07-2019, 13:02   #4
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Re: Proof of ownership for UK registered boat

Just a side note, if you buy the boat while it is outside of the EU the "VAT paid status" will revert to "VAT not paid". If you don't intend to bring the boat back to the U.K. then that isn't a problem.
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Old 18-07-2019, 00:56   #5
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Re: Proof of ownership for UK registered boat

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Agreed.. I would tell him to bog off with the 10% unless he is prepared to pull in a broker or lawyer, maybe his bank manager as intermediary for holding the deposit in escrow.. been bitten by the honour handshake in the past.

Maybe a token holding deposit (max €500) that is no hardship to return should a higher bidder appear.. yet small enough to just skin your nose should he prove an ass.

SSR rules are seller returns the document to dereg so all you will have is a bill of sale and maybe a photo copy of the SSR.. mind, deals are done like this in the UK, I have sold cars and boats in a pub over a pint a few times in the past.

Here is an RYA Bill of Sale form.. just make sure it is signed by all named on the SSR.


Thanks Boatman, that helps.. that all plays along the lines of what I was thinking.
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Old 18-07-2019, 01:01   #6
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Re: Proof of ownership for UK registered boat

The one final check you can make is ask to see the insurance policy. Unlikely a stolen boat is going to be insured just to sell it. You might approach the insurance broker and ask for a quote too.

Oh and if it has a VHF it should appear on the worldwide Mars database.
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Old 18-07-2019, 08:43   #7
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Re: Proof of ownership for UK registered boat

This is why they have part 1 full registration for boats outside home waters. Technically SSR registration is not valid outside UK waters even though it is generally accepted by other European countries (watch that space if BREXIT happens!). The important point is to get the boat properly resisted in your own flag state. Once you have full registration you have proof of title. But if there are no proper records of previous ownership that may prove a difficult process especially if you are looking to get UK registration.
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Old 18-07-2019, 08:51   #8
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Originally Posted by roland stockham View Post
This is why they have part 1 full registration for boats outside home waters. Technically SSR registration is not valid outside UK waters even though it is generally accepted by other European countries (watch that space if BREXIT happens!). The important point is to get the boat properly resisted in your own flag state. Once you have full registration you have proof of title. But if there are no proper records of previous ownership that may prove a difficult process especially if you are looking to get UK registration.
Not really, the boat is currently SSR which is simple to do online.. all you need is an address in the UK and a UK CC.. questions only start if you pay with a foreign CC..
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Old 18-07-2019, 08:59   #9
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Re: Proof of ownership for UK registered boat

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Not really, the boat is currently SSR which is simple to do online.. all you need is an address in the UK and a UK CC.. questions only start if you pay with a foreign CC..

That's the point, it is so simple anyone can do it and as long as they are dishonest and the boat is not already registered they do not even have to own the boat! The ONLY proof the OP has that this is a valid sale will be the bill of sale the present owner has.
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Old 18-07-2019, 09:06   #10
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pirate Re: Proof of ownership for UK registered boat

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That's the point, it is so simple anyone can do it and as long as they are dishonest and the boat is not already registered they do not even have to own the boat! The ONLY proof the OP has that this is a valid sale will be the bill of sale the present owner has.
Exactly how it works.. theres also the name on the third party insurance all boats must carry to enter ports and marinas in the Med.
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Old 18-07-2019, 11:05   #11
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Re: Proof of ownership for UK registered boat

UK SSR Registration is exactly the same as the V5 Vehicle registration. It just proves the vessel/vehicle is registered with the authorities and that the person named is the "registered" keeper of said vessel/vehicle.

It does not, nor has it ever, prove that you own the boat/car/bike etc.

Proof of ownership is through things like the Bill of Sale, Insurance Documents, Ships Radio Licence even. There is no hard and fast document that conclusively proves a person owns anything, with the exception of the Title Deeds on a house but only then after you have fully paid off the mortgage or secured loans secured against it.

Small Ships Register is only available to UK Citizens with a permanent address in the UK. Technically your home port is Cardiff where the SSR is actually located. It doesn't matter where you boat is located physically as long as you have a permanent UK address and this will not be affected by the UK's departure from the EU as it is not an EU matter but an International Maritime matter. SSR is recognised internationally as an official ships registration of the UK, you do not suddenly need a full Part 1 registration if you leave UK waters.
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Old 18-07-2019, 11:33   #12
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Re: Proof of ownership for UK registered boat

To add to the valid points already made, such as SSR being meaningless as a document of title, the question is not only if V as vendor has the documentation to indicate, as against prove, ownership but whether V is actually who he says he is.

Due diligence therefore incudes being satisfied as to the true identity of V. The least that I would want would be sight of an actual passport, a driving licence (which if EU will not only have a photo but an address) and a debit card. Ideally, also a recent utility bill from the same address as on the licence. More difficult to get hold of if the ID papers have also been obtained illegally.

All of which I would photocopy with such as Microsoft Office Lens on my phone.

Why am I so cautious? Most boats have all the documents relating to registration and sale on board. Anyone who breaks in can therefore have possession of them.

As for a 10% deposit to an unknown individual - forget it. Look up how to set up an escrow account or pay 1€ for a time limited mutually signed option to purchase. Boats are not that easy to sell. The time need not be long.

BTW, you might want to read the thread here about VAT and the EU if the boat has had VAT paid in the UK.
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Old 19-07-2019, 04:40   #13
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Re: Proof of ownership for UK registered boat

In addition to previous posts you might want to pay the £10 to SSR to have them check out if there is a loan secured on the boat (similar to an HPI check ahead of a car purchase). I found that out after buying mine and then SSR refusing to register it as it had a loan still registered against it ! As it was the seller sorted the admin 'error' out. But I am left with a suspicion, having spoken with the Broker Manager, that often transactions are completed and only then does the seller pay off the loan and take off any collateral note - without telling the buyer !! You are right the auld addage still applies - Buyer Beware !
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